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U.S. Embassy, CARICOM Youth Ambassadors Reach Thousands with Virtual Professional Development Workshop

Last week, more than 5,000 persons across the Caribbean and as far away as the UK tuned into the virtual Professional Development Series, hosted by the U.S. Embassy and the CARICOM Youth Ambassadors (CYA). The three-part series, which was streamed on the Embassy’s Facebook Live platform, provided aspiring professionals across the region with lessons on resume writing, interview skills, and personal branding. Program facilitators included CYAs for Barbados Tirshatha Jeffrey and Chad Monerville, CYA for St. Kitts & Nevis Dwane Hendrickson, CEO of The HR Boss Jameela Hollingsworth, Managing Director of The Job Connect Tiffany Jones, and Founder of The Brand Lab and Sips Smoothie Bar Corey McClean.

“It would be an understatement to say that COVID-19 has put a wrench in all of our plans”, said U.S. Deputy Public Affairs Officer Leland Lazarus, who served as the program moderator. “Maybe you were working in the tourism industry that has been decimated by COVID-19. Or maybe you’re an entrepreneur looking to take this opportunity to pivot into a new industry. This program provided young persons as well as the young at heart with the skills they need to take their careers to the next level.” CYA Chad Monerville added that “all who took this opportunity to retool, retrain and upskill would be agile and well positioned to contribute meaningfully in their households and society at large.”

In the first session, Succinct and Successful: Résumé Writing, Jameela Hollingsworth and Dwane Hendrickson explained the differences between a résumé and curriculum vitae and how to develop a one-page résumé, tailor it to the job, and proofread and edit it. “I want to encourage people to update their resume regularly, and to make sure to put their best foot forward given the current environment”, admonished Ms. Hollingsworth. Mr. Hendrickson also encouraged people to “use this time as best as you can to update yourself professionally” so that they are ready to jump at job opportunities when they arise.

In session two, Prep and Practice: Tips for the Interview, Tiffany Jones and Chad Monerville shared tips, tricks, and strategies in preparing for an interview, including the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action, Result). They listed some of the most common interview questions and even conducted an interview simulation so that persons could hear an ideal answer to an interview question. They also covered appropriate attire for both women and men at an interview, and the importance of following up with the employer afterwards.

In the final session, The New Normal: Marketing Yourself in 2020, Tirshatha Jeffrey and Corey McClean detailed how to use social media platforms like LinkedIn to build your personal brand, reach out to potential customers, and network with other professionals.  “Think of yourself as ‘Me Inc’”, said Mr. McClean. “You are a business, and your most important job is to be the head marketer of the brand called ‘You’.” Ms. Jeffrey stressed that you do not have to be on every social media platform. “I’m not on TikTok because I’m too old for it and I can’t dance!” she joked. “But when choosing a platform, you want to think about who are the users and target audience on it (age, demographics, etc), what is the content you want to create on it, and why you want to be on that platform…for networking, selling a product, or learning.”

This is the second collaboration between the U.S. Embassy and the CARICOM Youth Ambassadors after a joint virtual presentation for International Youth Day in August. Later this month, the Embassy will partner with the Barbados Youth Business Trust and the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation to launch the second iteration of the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs, through which 25 young women will receive entrepreneurship mentorship and support.

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